I never thought there was such a thing. I only heard it said when someone was frustrated about something or when Charlie Brown just couldn’t cut it. I’ve always associated grief with crying and being sad. Just a dark cloud of loss and pain. I remember when my father died. I didn’t know which way was up. I was doing fine as long as I was in Alabama with the rest of my family. As soon as I got back to Georgia, that is when it all hit me. I had to try to live in a world where my father physically wasn’t. I felt all alone in this big bad world. Although we didn’t live in the same state, I somehow felt protected by him. I can recall not wanting to go outside and at the time, I couldn’t understand why not. I guess that’s when the grief started. Until then, I guess I was on autopilot. I would try to watch television and all I would see were fathers and daughters. When I finally got up enough strength to go out, I was constantly being reminded that he was gone. As I looked around and so many people still had their fathers and mine was dead. I became so angry at everything and everyone. Why did my father have to die? Why not take a bad person that was not contributing anything to society? I did not want to see or hear anything about anyone else’s father because it was not fair. I didn’t want to go back to Alabama because he was not there. I could not explain the sadness and sorrow I was feeling. No one would understand I lost the first man I ever fell in love with. No one knew how we talked daily and most of times, it was about nothing at all. I just wanted him to know I loved him as much as he loved me. I did not want to be reminded of any good times because it hurt so bad. Nothing in my life had purpose. I didn’t want to finish graduate school or anything else I was working toward because he was gone. I stayed in this fog for a long time and had no plans getting out of it.
One day those thoughts and feelings changed. I was talking to my son Christopher and he said ” Momma I miss paw paw Mike so much. I don’t know what to do.” As a mother, you don’t ever want to see your child, no matter what age , in pain. As the tears rolled down my face, I said to him ” you continue to allow your paw paw to live through you. You talk to him and you remember all the wonderful time you two spent together.” Where the hell did that come from? Was that momma bear Yolanda or therapist Yolanda? Whomever it was seemingly gave me permission to go on with my life and still have my father with me during each and every step. I finally understood that grief manifests itself in many ways and it does not always mean crying and anger. Of course I know the 5 stages of grief: 1. Denial & Isolation 2. Anger 3. Bargaining 4. Depression & 5. Acceptance. The realization I had was that it does not always happen in order and there is no time limit. I have my good days when I can watch the Twilight Zone and think about how that was our favorite show and just smile. Then there are the bad days when I want to call him to tell him how sick I feel and then I am reminded he will not answer the phone because he is not physically here. The only difference between now and then is I am not paralyzed by grief, but I use my “good grief” to celebrate my father’s life and to stay connected with all those I love. I will talk about him to anyone who is willing to listen and I cry when I need to.
Today was a mixture of both. Before I saw the doctor to get my CT scan results, I was so nervous. All I could think about was how I wish my father was here so he could make me feel better. He knew how to keep me from worrying and make me laugh about something silly. I wanted to be able to call him while I was speaking with the doctor. After everything was said and done today, I was able to talk to him about it anyway. My father is always here with me. He is watching over all of us. I even reminded him about a previous conversation about neither one of us being worth a squirrel fart due to our illnesses. I was able to laugh and keep calm during rush hour Atlanta traffic thanks to him.
“Fathers and daughters have a special bond.
She is always daddy’s little girl.”
― Richard L. Ratliff